So, roll on to the year 1986. I began a my own Knitwear Design Company. No training in fashion college, just an instinct and an eye for colour, shape and design. I subscribed to all the top knitwear design industry magazines, and got my self the woolmark symbol licence. Lainey Keogh was flying, why shouldn’t I?
So with a new knitting machine, wool from France, and a head full of designs, I knit my first collection of samples and hit the boutiques. All the orders were ‘ sale or return’ and we were in the midst of the worst recession since the 1950s. So, were was this all going to lead?
I had an amazing response to my designs. Jackie Lavin had a boutique in Blackrock. I made an appointment to see her. She got me to try on my designs and gave me a HUGE order. I didn’t take on knitters, as I was afraid to compromise the quality and finish. The knits were retailing for between £150 and £250 each – a lot of money back then.
However Ireland was just not big enough. I needed to export and get expert knitters on board. I had a meeting with Robin (can’t recall her last name) a senior buyer of Barneys New York, in the Westbury Hotel in January 1987. It was through a contact at a course I was on. She wanted to get me into Barneys with my own label. I was in shock.
Upon advice I made an appointment with the Irish Export Board, who were in Sandymount at the time.
The result of that meeting will be in Episode Three!